28 May 2011

White Leaven Bread

It's day six in natural leaven week and will I be able to use it to make a loaf of bread today? I went to the cupboard first thing this morning to check progress and it had doubled in size again overnight, I think it may have worked! What an amazing thing. Just by mixing a few easily obtained ingredients you can make this wonderful thing that I can now use to make bread. Isn't chemistry wonderful?
On this high I went out to get some shopping and on my return checked out the recipe for the White Leaven Bread, the first recipe in The Handmade Loaf. I wish I had read the recipe a bit closer before going out! It takes all day, start at 8am and the bread comes out of the oven about 12 hours later! Deja vu, it's Colomba all over again. But not being one to be put off by the length of time a recipe takes I started at about 1pm.
Although the recipe calls for it to be baked the same day I think I will put the dough in the fridge overnight and the bake it in the morning. I've done this before with a yeast bread and it worked so we shall give it a go.

200g white leaven
375g cold water
500g Strong White Flour
1 and a half tsp salt
Semolina for dusting
There is also an optional 1 and a half tsp ground malted grain and as I didn't have any and it's optional I left it out.

Whisk the leaven with the water until mixed and then add the flour and salt. The instructions are to then get your hands in and mix it all together to a soft dough. I really don't like getting my hands into dough when it's a this stage (I know...) so I used a wooden spoon, it worked perfectly fine. The dough is left in the bowl for 10 minutes. It is then kneaded for 10-15 seconds on a lightly oiled surface and left for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, clean out the bowl and lightly oil it. When the 10 minutes is up knead it again for the 10-15 seconds, shape into a ball and pop in the bowl. Leave for 10 minutes. You can see where this is going. You basically repeat this but the next time the dough is left for 30 minutes, then an hour and then 2 hours. The dough is just a dream to work with, silken, smooth, elastic. Very different to working with traditional yeast.
After the 2 hour rise you then divide the dough into two, shape into balls and leave for 15 minutes. Prepare two bowls for the dough. I have one linen covered bowl and for the other loaf I floured a tea towel and popped it in a bowl (as per the instructions, I wasn't just doing my own thing).
This is where I am at this moment, just waiting to pop the dough into their prepared bowls. I will then put them in the fridge overnight and bake tomorrow. So pictures of the finished articles tomorrow. Here's hoping my fridge rising works.

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